NEW IJURR_nyc_images

Central Park, 1996; Bear Garden, Brooklyn, 1996; Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 2000 (photos by Matthew Gandy)

Many of the key debates in urban research over the last thirty years have occurred in and through New York City. A range of key figures in the analysis of capitalist urbanization have published their research on New York City in the pages of this journal including Robert Beauregard, Susan Fainstein, John Friedmann, Loretta Lees, Ann Markusen, Margit Mayer, Peter Marcuse, Harvey Molotch, Neil Smith, Sharon Zukin and many others.

We can differentiate between two main bodies of work in relation to New York City: firstly, the role of the city as an intellectual arena through which key theoretical ideas have been explored and elaborated; and secondly, those works that focus on the city itself for the analysis of specific manifestations of urban transformation. If we consider the ‘thinking space’ of the city it is clear that the role of New York as an inspiration for thought and also a focus for analysis are often interrelated so we cannot easily disentangle the theoretical and empirical dimensions to urban scholarship. Although, we cannot refer to a ‘New York School’ in quite the same way as the LA School of the 1990s — exemplified by the work of Ed Soja, Allen J. Scott and others — or even the Venice School of the 1970s — with the distinctive neo-Marxian architectonic discourse of Massimo Cacciari and Manfredo Tafuri — there is nonetheless a powerful skein of individual and institutional connections that places the city at the centre of a series of critical debates. There has been, through the work of Peter Marcuse, Neil Smith and others, a deep dedication to exploring aspects of social injustice in New York City as a means to build a powerful body of empirically grounded theoretical work. A set of conceptual tools and vantage points have emerged from the city which remain pivotal to socially engaged urban research.

Critical areas of scholarship on New York City addressed in IJURR include migration, labour markets and the incidence of urban poverty; the effects of fiscal crisis on patterns of urban government and public service provision; housing and ghetto formation; gentrification and class displacement; the garment industry and processes of industrial change; the rise of art districts and the power of cultural capital; and more recently, the city as a focal point for critical security discourses and geopolitical agendas.

In selecting ten articles for this virtual issue of the journal (from more than 40 possibilities) I have sought a balance between past and present, placing some ‘classic’ articles alongside a few less known contributions. There comes a certain point where the journal itself becomes part of the discourse in question: essays may link in unexpected ways or novel insights may subsequently become central elements in urban debate. I hope that this initial selection will provoke further reading and reflection and perhaps even the writing of new articles that carry these debates forward.

Matthew Gandy,
IJURR Editorial Board
February 2012

The Reassertion of Economics: 1990s Gentrification in the Lower East Side
Neil Smith and James Defilippis

Is the Institutionalization of Urban Movements Inevitable? A Comparison of the Opportunities for Sustained Squatting in New York City and Amsterdam
Hans Pruijt

Dealing with Urban Terror: Heritages of Control, Varieties of Intervention, Strategies of Research
Harvey Molotch and Noah Mcclain

The Ascendance of New York Fashion
Norma M. Rantisi

Loft Living as ‘Historic Compromise’ in the Urban Core: The New York Experience
Sharon Zukin

Gimme Shelter: Self-Help Housing Struggles Within and Against the State in New York City and West Berlin
Steven Katz and Margit Mayer

‘Dual City’: A Muddy Metaphor for a Quartered City
Peter Marcuse

Economics, Politics and Development Policy: The Convergence of New York and London
Susan S. Fainstein

Sweatshop Workers and Domestic Ideologies: Dominican Women in New York’s Apparel Industry
Patricia R. Pessar

Changing Art: SoHo, Chelsea and the Dynamic Geography of Galleries in New York City
Harvey Molotch and Mark Treskon